Space Planning for Room Makeovers

For me, one of the most fun parts of a design project or room makeover can be the space planning. Space plans are essential for avoiding a lot of mistakes on any design project.

space planning for room makeovers title


I’m working on a complete redesign of my daughter’s room, and I showed you the design elements here. We are fortunate to be working with SmartStuff to bring in some all new, beautiful and super-functional, pieces. I’ve had a chance to see many of their line in person, and I’m already beyond impressed with this company’s attention to design and sturdiness of the pieces. There’s no pressed board here, and wait until you see all the hidden compartments!

It’s no fun to fall in love with- or worse- bring home a beautiful piece of furniture, only to find that it doesn’t fit in the space. Don’t be the one who can’t fit the wardrobe on the intended wall. Everyone knows someone who bought a sofa too big to get into the intended room.

If you are spatially challenged, space planning is even more critical. Measure twice, and check your list multiple times before making a big purchase. Having a 2-dimensional scale drawing to place furniture on can save you a lot of headaches. It also saves frustration if you are working with a designer. Knowing the size limitations of your room can spare you from accidentally trying to place too much furniture in a room. It can also help you “find” otherwise unused space.

One of my favorite tools for space planning is the Room Planner app by Chief Architect. It lets you move stuff around on the iPad just like they do on Property Brothers. OK, maybe not quite as fancy, but close. Like any software, you can use it to do a quick and dirty placement of major items, or you can measure to the inch. Sometimes in decorating, that inch or two can make a big difference. Like in this draft below, you can just see that the end table is not going to work beside the bed.

space planning to ensure furniture fit


I’ve used dozens of space planning tools over the years, and the computer tools are constantly improving. Just be prepared to spend a little time learning how your favorite program works. Each one of them have different controls and features, things like showing and changing the dimensions of items in your design.

dimensions in space plans

For this project, there are several good options for furniture placement. But since SmartStuff furniture is good quality, heavy stuff, and I’m working with newly finished hardwood floors, I’d rather have the placement determined before it arrives.

When you are doing space planning, be sure to:

  • leave room for doors to open and close
  • leave at least 3 feet for walkways
  • leave 3 feet behind chairs that need to be pulled out from a desk or table
  • consider whether furniture will interfere with windows, fans, or HVAC
  • create logical functional groupings, like locating a dresser near a closet, if possible.

In a child’s room, like this, I like to leave as much floor space as possible for play. It ends up being helpful to see not only the 2D design, but also the 3D design, to see if it really feels like I want it to. There are tons of controls that let me “walk around” the room, and even see the room from outside the walls and windows, if I want.

3D space plan from a 2D space plan

Like I said, this is sometimes my favorite phase of the project. You can swap items in and out of the design, change the size of your items, change some (but often not all) of the colors for things like walls, rugs, furniture, and accessories, and move everything around a bunch of times- all without paying for movers or reaching for the ibuprofen. The iPad is definitely easier to move.

space plan 3D design

Not every project requires or warrants this much planning, but like I said, when you are changing or moving heavy furniture, it can be a Godsend.

Do you enjoy space planning, or would you prefer to tackle a decorating project without it?


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Sam

    It’s great to have all this tech stuff now. I always did the inch and it helped me since I was always changing the rooms around.

  2. Sabrina Quairoli

    I have to try this app: Room Planner app by Chief Architect. When I was in high school, I was able to take Interior Design I and II as classes my senior year and it was all about space planning. I loved it. I didn’t realize then, that I would be using it this much in my career. =)

  3. Lana

    Going to download right now. Working on a sewing room/grandchild room.

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